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August 15. 2013 1:20PM

Rochester boat ramp closing for several weeks for improvement


Barrington resident Leroy Myers, left, helped a fellow boater after their trailer became stuck off the edge of the public ramp at Baxter Lake in Rochester Wednesday afternoon. The state plans to close the ramp Monday for three weeks to add more concrete slabs to address the issue. (Quinn/Union Leader)

ROCHESTER – With boaters regularly getting stuck on the Baxter Lake boat ramp, the state will close it for three weeks to extend the concrete slabs to deal with launch and retrieval issues.

During the construction period, which begins Monday, Fish & Game will add additional concrete sections to the ramp, which is accessible via Boat Ramp Road, off of Four Rod Road near Loon Lane. Baxter Lake is a 302-acre warm water pond along the Rochester-Farmington border.

"The repair at Baxter Lake is to fix a problem brought to our attention during periods of low water," said Jeff King, statewide Public Boat Access Program coordinator for Fish & Game.

The project will cost less than $10,000 and will help prevent boaters getting their trailers stuck on the ramp, particularly when the water level is low.

"Sometimes boaters will load their boats on their trailers while under power (referred to as power loading)," King said in an e-mail.

As a result, King said power loading sometimes causes the lake bottom to erode at the end of the ramp, which creates an underwater depression that can trap the wheels of a trailer.

"Then when the water gets lower, boaters must back their trailers further into the water to get the depth they need to load the boat on the trailer. If they go too far the trailer will drop off the end of the ramp into the hole," King said in the e-mail.

"When this happens it can cause damage to the trailer and make it difficult to pull it back out," he said.

Barrington resident Leroy Myers, who helped a fellow boater free a trailer Wednesday, said this has been a growing issue for the past three to four years.

"They (the state) need to fix it," Myers said. "It's not the first time I've seen it happen."

As water levels have remained high this year, King said there have been fewer issues at Baxter Lake this summer.

"Periods of low water are dependent on seasonal rainfall. A couple of years ago we had very little rainfall and many lakes and ponds were below normal water elevations throughout the season," King said in the e-mail.

King said the project was reviewed and approved by N.H. Department of Environmental Services.

"We go through the proper permitting process just like anyone else would," King said.

While the boat ramp itself will be closed during construction, King said area residents are still be able to access the area to fish from the shore, though access and space at the ramp site may be limited as construction equipment and materials will be stored nearby.

"Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no other public boat access to Baxter Lake," King said in the e-mail.

For more information about the state's Public Boat Access Program, which is funded in part through boat registration fees, visit http://www.wildnh.com/access.




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